Our granny Kamba


11. 06. 2018

I will never forget that view. Near the window of the preparation room in Gorilla Pavilion Shinda, Ajabu, Kiburi, Nuru a Kijivu were staying close to each other and observing Kamba located in the opposite room with the expressions full of fear. The whole gorilla family was waiting for what will be with its oldest member. That was a very touching view and if I had not known at that moment that male Richard recently let sick Kamba stay on his own plank-bed or that Nuru slept and hugged her, this only view itself would have convinced me, that gorillas sense and feel in exactly the same way as we, people, do.

Foto: Petr Hamerník, Zoo Praha Foto: Petr Hamerník, Zoo Praha

I was watching Kamba, who was waiting for the sleeping injunction and the fear inside me was mixing with sorrow. As if she has not already experienced enough of anxiety and pain … She was born in 1972 in Cameroonian virgin forests and when she was about two years old, her parents were killed by poachers. Subsequently she lived in several zoological gardens, but for decades, she was not lucky to find a functional gorilla family. She came to Prague for the first time in the summer of 2001, but the year after she experienced the flood here, and she returned here only in the autumn of 2005. And only then her life got changed.. She perfectly fitted into Richard’s family and became a loving „aunty“ for local babies: at first for Moji and later for all male gorilla’s babies. In 2007, she was even expecting her own baby, but unfortunately, it did not survived the delivery and Kamba barely survived herself. A similar situation repeated in 2013, when even a top medical team could not save her baby. Moreover, as if all that was not enough, last week she started experiencing stomach aches, that was indicating serious health issues.

The zookeepers lowered the blinds in the preparation room, but I was feeling that the gorillas behind them were still stuck to the window. When the veterinarian came, it seemed like Kamba knew what was going on. She was not running away and allowed to anesthetize her. An examination was following and then surgery, during which her uterus and ovaries were removed.

The next day, in the morning, I was going to see Kamba. „How is our granny doing?“ - asked me my colleague, whom I met on my way, and I realized, that the concerns about Kamba have extended far beyond Gorilla Pavilion, and expanded all over the whole zoo and even outside it, and that for many people Kamba is the most favourite one from the whole Prague Zoo.

When I saw Kamba, it was obvious that she felt relatively better. Moreover, now she was again in contact with her family, which is with no doubts the best remedy. I wish that all would go well and Kamba would have a long happy life in our zoo!

Miroslav Bobek
Director of Prague Zoo